England 0 – 0 Italy

The day after the night before and I started clearing the inbox on my phone. The friends who were sending text messages with 4-0 and 6-0 predictions at kick off, by the end were almost threatening to “top themselves”. I wasn’t really prepared to be witnessing a loss, so was saved from wallowing in defeat, drowning sorrows, by my lack of adequate preparation (I struggle to drink a gallon of tepid lager, without an excess of cheap cigarettes, I gave it a good go though).

How we got to extra time is proof, if it were needed, that Hodgson certainly has something about him. As I’ve said before,  whether we can really, honestly say that it’s all part of the master plan and not just beginners luck (“The Honeymoon period”) after so little time with the squad, only time will tell. The signs are good enough and I personally feel it’s the former. We’ll see. (If you’re new to this site, please feel free to substitute any cliches for those of your choosing.)

The key was always going to be if we could super-impose Rooney onto the tight(ish), organised(ish) unit we had seen in the first game and for parts of the second, and we couldn’t. Rooney hasn’t been the player we know is in there for a while, but it would take a manager with a death wish to leave him out. In terms of England, let’s hope United get in some proper players and SAF finds a way to provide him with whatever it is he’s missing.

It was all going so well in the first half (to a degree), and it appeared for a brief moment at the start of the second half, that everything was falling into place. The fall from that point on was dramatic. It was shocking to see Gerrard cramping up in the 70th  minute. That was a moment of clarity for me, a reality check, or a kick in the bollocks, you might say. We had the chances, but weren’t sharp enough in front of goal and we probably played better than we had in the previous games overall, but it was nowhere near good enough, against an Italian side who are nowhere near good enough to win the tournament. You do the math.

The third penalty is always the one that shifts the momentum, BUT what a penalty. I’m surprised Ashley Young could even walk up and place the ball after witnessing that. A-MAZ-ING!

Lots of positives, not least Roy’s calming influence on the squad and media. Lots of younger players are in the mix now, and there are  still a few who will feel aggrieved not to have gone to the tournament at all. Roy trusts players, so I don’t think the changes will be far reaching, but I think it’s exciting. I’m excited to be an England fan again and for me that’s enough for now.

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